What do you think about this: A Walt Disney World attraction that isn’t a ride, a show, or a character meet-and-greet, that let’s your kids experience some cool Disney “magic” without having to wait in long lines.
It exists, I tell you. On our last trip. we discovered three free hidden gems — they’re easy to miss and great to discover —two at the Magic Kingdom and one at Epcot. They feature Disney characters and the sort of “magical” special effects you would expect from Disney. Even this mom—who has taken a lot of Disney vacations and can get a little bored — was pretty excited.
Kids tend to gravitate toward these types of interactive, problem-solving games just as they’re outgrowing character meet-and-greets. They are great for the 8-to-12 set and a good option if you are visiting Disney World with tweens.
Here is a roundup of these cool immersive experiences at Disney World and how to spot them.
3 Must-Try Interactive Adventures
Sign Up as a Sorcerer’s Apprentice
Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom is an interactive game with playing spots throughout the Magic Kingdom. The story is that Hades (voiced by James Woods), the mob boss of the Underworld from Disney’s Hercules, is trying to take over the Magic Kingdom, one portal at a time. Disney is recruiting apprentice sorcerers to fight off his minions (villains ranging from the bumbling dog-nappers in 101 Dalmations to the more formidable Sea Witch from The Little Mermaid’s) by casting their own spells.
Apprentice sorcerers report to the Firehouse on Main Street, USA, where they are instructed in the ways of magic by Merlin (from The Sword in the Stone) and given their first set of spells. The spells appear to be trading cards, but once a sorcerer holds up the card to cast a first spell it’s clear they are more than mere pieces of paper. The screen technology used to bring the animated portals to life inside seemingly innocent shop windows is impressive and leaves you wondering: “How’d they do that?” as the best details at Disney do!
Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom absolutely captivated my 10-year-old when he first tried it. He constantly checks on his spell cards to make sure they’re “ready for battle” when we next return to Walt Disney World.
Join a Pirate Crew
A Pirate’s Adventure: Treasures of the Seven Seas is an interactive game you play within the Magic Kingdom’s Adventureland. You can complete a mission in about twenty minutes, so we use it to fill time before a dining reservation or a FastPass+ entry.
Players join Captain Jack Sparros’s crew and complete one of five adventures. In each one, young pirates decipher clues on a pirate’s map to find their way through Adventureland. Each time they hold up a Magic Talisman to the right clue, they get a little surprise: Pirates might set off a cannon or they might wake up a skeleton.
Be A Secret Agent Man
Hear a weird beeping noise while you’re perusing one of Epcot’s international pavilions? That sound is one unfortunate side-effect of Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure. The upside of these beeps is the opportunity to sit on a bench in “Germany” or the “United Kingdom” with a cold beverage while your kids scamper around trying to complete an assignment for the secret agent-platypus star of Phineas and Ferb.
Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure begins at kiosks you’ll find on the bridge from Future World or in the World Showcase area itself. Here kids can accept an assignment in one of the international pavilions and get a flip phone for special instructions. Once in their chosen pavilion, the special agents use their phone to find clues and set off special effects, which might be hidden in the shops, window displays, or even high up in the dormers and towers of the pavilion’s buildings. With seven missions to choose from, kids can defeat Dr. Doofenshmirtz again and again for hours (a good point or a bad point, depending on your plans for the day).
Whether you play these interactive games along with your kids or use them to gain a little relaxation time, they are wonderful additions to the theme parks. They’re a change of pace from dizzying rides and long lines for everyone. For our family, who thought we’d seen everything the Mouse had to offer, it was especially fun to discover a new and creative way to explore familiar parks.
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Natalie Reinert spent five years working at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, then created personalized Disney vacations for her clients as a travel planner with Glass Slipper Concierge.
Photos: Courtesy of Walt Disney World and Walt Disney Studios